“5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO of Global Results Communications (GRC),” With Valerie Christopherson
Remember to have fun despite the pressures of the business. There’s nothing like laughter and humor to release tension and keep spirits high, even when the sky seems to be falling. As far as I know, it never actually has!
Valerie Christopherson is founder and CEO of Global Results Communications (GRC), an award-winning public relations firm trusted by both entrepreneurs on the cusp of new discoveries and multi-billion-dollar enterprises breaking new ground. Renowned for her expertise in high tech, she is the driving force behind GRC’s targeted communications strategies that dramatically enhance client market presence and performance on a global scale. Prior to founding GRC in 2005, Valerie held key positions at QUALCOMM, Porter Novelli Convergence Group and other niche agencies in the mobile, telecom and technology sectors. Over a span of 20 years, she provided unparalleled counsel and campaign management resulting in successful public relations and social media programs for Fortune 500 companies, major trade associations and start-ups. A current board member of Golden Rule Charity, Valerie has been involved with various nonprofit organizations including Make a Wish Foundation and Mobile Giving Foundation among others. An industry thought leader, she is frequently called upon to speak at regional and national events including PR News conferences, regional PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) conferences and Comm Week at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). A graduate of CSUF, Valerie holds a bachelor’s degree in both English and communications with a public relations emphasis. She also completed a social media certification program at University of California, Irvine.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have a saying that “PR finds you; you don’t find PR,” as the best PR professionals I know had different career paths in mind. In my case, I was planning to go to law school and ultimately be a prosecutor. However, mid-way through undergrad, where I doubled majored in English and communications, I was required to complete an internship in public relations. It was through that internship I grew to really understand what PR was and the significant impact it had on just about everything. As a result, I chose to do three additional internships and upon graduation made the decision to stay in the world of PR. Since then, I’ve never looked back nor regretted that decision.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Wow. Where to begin, as I’m 15 years into owning the firm and 24 years into my career overall. I’d have to say that there have been numerous stories worth sharing, but what stands out most stems from the programs I’ve been privileged enough to work on, including the 2010 natural disaster in Haiti, where the Haitian government asked for my help in getting the word out about text-to-donate options. Working with the Mobile Giving Foundation, we raised millions of dollars from high-impact media coverage including MTV, Today Show, WSJ, all major networks such as NBC, ABC, CBS, and more.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Global Results Communications (GRC)stands out from the crowd because of our team and our expansive collective worldview. The firm is truly global, with talented PR practitioners from different countries, different states and different backgrounds. The office environment, as well as our client base, reflects this quite literally. We frequently have office activities and recently hosted an international potluck. It was amazing to not only taste our way through the world with favorite family recipes but also to get such an intimate glimpse of each other’s personal lives. Food has a way of bringing people together, but beyond that, it’s our collaborative spirit that has made GRC what it is today.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
While I’m biased, I think everything we work on at GRC is exciting. Tech is funny like that. At times, you literally get to work on very ‘technical products’ that make you think, who will care? But without the techy side of tech, products simply won’t work! It’s like a car without an engine: it looks good but won’t get you anywhere.
It is undeniable that technology is transforming the way people live, from education and healthcare to automotive and space travel. In other words, technology touches everything. And because it does, what we do at GRC will help people adapt, grow, change and continuously improve their lives.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
Candidly, I don’t separate my advice from female to male. I view people as people and when leading a business, gender really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you focus on what you’re expected to deliver, and then deliver on that promise every time. In a world where politics evokes strong emotions that in turn affect business, I say, keep the politics out. It tends to hold people back, to keep them in fear, when what we really need is courage. That take a willingness to listen to your team/peers/colleagues/clients and really understand what they expect from you. Based on that, create your plan of action and move it forward. Don’t get sidetracked from the end goal. In my opinion, focus, focus, focus is key to success these days.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
Managing a large team requires organization, as chaos doesn’t garner results. For women that are entering the management level of large teams, I’d recommend that you remain consistent. Understand that being female doesn’t empower you more or less than your male counterparts. Once you view yourself as a professional rather than a “female professional,” the so-called barriers won’t matter. As previously noted, barriers are only barriers if you let them stop you. If you remain focused on the business, the results speak for themselves. Whether your team is large or small, you need to remain organized, establish a clear line of communication, and let your staff know who’s in charge and what is expected. But, above all, you must be willing to do everything you ask of your team. If you are leading an organization in excess of 30 people, I recommend monthly town hall meetings.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Outside of my tremendous family support, I have been fortunate to work with hundreds of companies and their executive teams, who have provided me with countless opportunities, lessons and sage advice. As a PR agency founder, I’ve been able to work side by side with the high-profile CEOs as well as entrepreneurs with an idea or dream that they want to bring to life. I’d have to say that it is a culmination of the various CEOs I’ve had the privileged of working with that has really helped me shape the firm and my professional career.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Success begets success and by giving back, we can fuel the goals and aspirations of others. At GRC, we are big on giving back by way of adopting families in need, hosting PR bootcamps for college students, participating in community events, sponsoring local sports teams for youth, fundraising for young professionals looking to enter into PR, mentoring students of all ages, speaking in high school classrooms and providing financial support to a number of charities.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Lead by example. It’s important that you not just do the talking but do the walking as well.
- Embrace changes and challenges. In both you will find new opportunities.
- Hire good business advisors. Lawyers, CPAs and tax attorneys are critical to keeping a business alive.
- Keep a healthy work culture and give everyone a voice. When employees feel appreciated, they are more productive, they are happier, and they are more likely to remain loyal for years to come.
- Remember to have fun despite the pressures of the business. There’s nothing like laughter and humor to release tension and keep spirits high, even when the sky seems to be falling. As far as I know, it never actually has!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
If I could inspire a movement, it would be focused on kindness and respect for one another. Especially when working with a multitude of people with differing opinions, backgrounds, experiences and beliefs on how to achieve the same goals, being patient and respecting all points of views will lead to a kinder world.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Don’t believe everything you read in medical books. You might die of a misprint. (Mark Twain)
If I believed in everything I read or was told, I’d be stuck in a library, sometimes it just comes down to experiences and making decisions, regardless if no one else ever has.